Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Change in Perm Results

Q: I'm going crazy trying to find out the answer to this question:
I'm 61 and since I've been 16 I've had my hair permed thru the years. Some years I didn't get it done but other times I got a perm every 4 or 5 months. I have very fine hair and would get a "curly" perm. Also I wear my hair short.
The problem is: in the past I would wait 3 or more days to wash my hair after a perm and my hair would feel "crunchy" (only word I can think of) and all I would have to do when I got up in the morning would be to run my fingers thru my hair or take a pick and pick it up to a nice shape and the shape stayed all day. I could go for weeks like this without setting my hair. The last 4 or 5 perms I got did not produce this result. My hairdresser is baffled also. I just got a perm last Friday and the same thing. I washed it yesterday and this morning it's flat to my head. There is curl but no "body" to make a nice shape. I have to set it again. I hate setting my hair every day of my life.
Are they making the perms differently? All I have are "soft" curls which are nice if my hair held it's shape but it doesn't. Thanks for any suggestions on this.

A: There is a trend in perm formulas toward “softer” curls since these tend to appear more natural, and it is entirely possible that the change in perm results are a direct reaction to a change in the formulation of the permanent wave being used. (That doesn’t count the possibility that your hairdresser has been using a different brand of permanent wave, unaware of the change in results that would occur.)
The first thing to do is to check the perm formula being used. Since your hairdresser is also “baffled”, it may require some investigation into possible, unpublicized changes in the formulation of the perm formula that she’s (or he’s) been using on your hair. If your hairdresser doesn’t use a specific brand of perm consistently, or has recently changed brands, etc., then that gives a more-likely answer to this puzzle.
In this case, you should ask your hairdresser to try different perm brands – focusing on alkaline/cold waves, as they offer the firmest curl results. Hopefully, a different brand of perm will return to you the results you have come to expect. Of course, it is “possible” that your hair has been changing on its own and responds differently to perming for this reason. The solution may simply be to find a style that you can enjoy and which remains a low-maintenance style.
However, while you’re trying to get the results you’ve come to expect, I can offer a suggestion that may help you improve the curl of your perm. The technique is called “air neutralizing” and involves perming the hair normally until you reach the rinsing stage after the waving lotion is processed. Once the hair is fully rinsed of waving lotion and blotted carefully with a towel, the rolled hair is dried under a cool dryer (or in some cases the client is sent home to allow the hair to air dry overnight) and then neutralizer is applied to the dried hair and the process is completed as normal. Among those who use this technique, the claim is that the curls are stronger and the perm results last longer. Talk to your stylist about this and get his/her feedback on the suitability for you.
Related posts:
Perms and perming
Formulas for permanent waves